Brazil vs. Chile
This may well be the pick of the second round matches. The two teams met at the same stage four years ago, with Brazil running out comfortable 3-0 winners. With Brazil not at their best so far and Chile hugely impressive in dethroning holders Spain, it promises to be much closer this time around. Chile has shown greater maturity in this World Cup and has slightly modified its all-out attacking approach. Their pressing and dynamic attacking remains, though, and it can certainly cause Brazil problems in what should be an entertaining affair. But with Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari having found a better midfield balance in the team's final group game, coupled with a convincing recent record against Chile, the hosts should progress.
Prediction: Brazil 3-2 Chile
Colombia vs. Uruguay
Another all South American encounter and another that is close to call. There will be a clash of style at the Maracanã, with Colombia relying on a thrilling collection of attacking players, led by James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado, and Luis Suárez-less Uruguay team dependent on its incredible resolve and determination, which has already be in full evidence in Brazil. Colombia has exceeded perhaps even its own expectations so far and, if they can keep their feet on the ground and match Uruguay’s mental toughness, they stand a great chance of making it to the quarterfinals of a World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.
Prediction: Colombia 2-1 Uruguay
Mexico vs. Netherlands
Featuring two teams likely to go with 3-5-2 formations armed with attacking intent, this should be a fascinating tactical battle, providing they don’t simply cancel each other out. Mexico has found an ideal balance for its team in Brazil to put the struggles of qualifying firmly behind them. It's a significant blow then that a key part of maintaining that balance will be missing against the Dutch, with holding midfielder José Juan Vázquez suspended. The devastating pace and supreme form of Arjen Robben may ultimately be the difference going up against a Mexico defense containing some slowing legs.
Prediction: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico
Costa Rica vs. Greece
It’s fair to say few people had this match penciled in for the last 16 when making their predictions a couple of weeks ago. Costa Rica has been brilliant in topping a group featuring three former World Cup winners -- Uruguay, Italy and England. Meanwhile, Greece has reveled in defying expectations once more after bouncing back from an opening heavy defeat to Colombia to secure progress thanks to a late penalty against Ivory Coast. It's unlikely to be the most thrilling of spectacles, with two teams more comfortable playing off the back foot. But Costa Rica has shown more attacking intent and quality going forward than Greece so far, and in the hot and humid conditions of Recife, should continue their memorable journey.
Prediction: Costa Rica 1-0 Greece
France vs. Nigeria
France has already succeeded in putting recent tournaments blighted by dressing-room unrest behind them following thrilling wins over Honduras and Switzerland by a combined score of 8-2. Karim Benzema is in the form of his life and he is an ample supporting cast to suggest France can go far. But both Honduras and Switzerland were defensively shambolic, something which Nigeria is unlikely to be. The African champions shut out Bosnia-Herzegovina impressively in a crucial 1-0 win, and they will hope to do similar again. France’s quality should ultimately tell.
Prediction: France 2-0 Nigeria
Germany vs. Algeria
Already through to the second round of a World Cup for the first time in their history, Algeria now has added motivation to go one step further. In the 1982 World Cup, Algeria was cynically prevented from progressing out of its group when then West Germany and Austria played out a 1-0 win for the Germans that took both teams through and sent Algeria home. Algeria had previously shocked Germany with a 2-1 win, and it would be a similar sensation this time around were the African side to get through. Under coach Vahid Halilhodžić, Algeria has showed that it has progressed from the dour negativity the team churned out in the 2010 World Cup. This means Algeria could give Germany a tougher examination than many think; however, the attacking options at German coach Joachim Löw's disposal, together with the team's exquisite movement, should see them safely through.
Prediction: Germany 2-0 Algeria
Argentina vs. Switzerland
Argentina hasn't been at its best yet in this World Cup, so it has been a good job that their star man demonstrably has been. Lionel Messi has so far emphatically delivered on the World Cup stage with four goals in the group stage to help his team record three wins. Their attack showed signs of finding its fluidity last time out against Nigeria, but has now lost Sergio Agüero to injury. Still, they could find a Switzerland team pleasingly brittle. Switzerland has a fine generation of players and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and striker Josip Drmić should cause a weak Argentina defense problems. But if Switzerland manater Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team plays with the same openness they did against France, especially down their right side, then Argentina will have a field day.
Prediction: Argentina 3-1 Switzerland
Belgium vs. USA
The most hotly tipped outsider heading into the World Cup, Belgium has so far fulfilled expectations fueled by a fine generation of talent by taking maximum points from their group. On the flip side, though, it was far from the most challenging section and Belgium wasn't exactly convincing. Belgium coach Marc Wilmots’ team has so far been heavily reliant on individual moments of brilliance rather than any cohesive team play. It should be a test that the United States relishes, having already defied expectations by coming through the "Group of Death." If the U.S. can perform as it did against Portugal, and keep possession better, they have a strong chance of pulling off an upset.
Prediction: USA 1-0 Belgium